Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center, Healthy Forsyth selected to participate in health initiative

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 2, 2021

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WINSTON-SALEM — Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation was awarded a $100,000 grant from The Duke Endowment to help improve health in Forsyth County. The grant will support the work of Healthy Forsyth, a diverse group of community organizations working collaboratively. Healthy Forsyth will join 10 existing North Carolina coalitions in The Duke Endowment’s initiative, Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas.

Research demonstrates that North Carolina ranks 31st among all states when it comes to the overall health of its residents, with two-thirds of residents considered overweight or obese. Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas recognizes that health and well-being are created and sustained not just through individual and clinical efforts but also through the cooperation and support of the extended local community. The program takes a bold approach to addressing chronic health issues such as unhealthy weight, diabetes and heart disease.

The Healthy Forsyth coalition initially will focus on Winston-Salem zip codes 27101, 27105 and 27107. Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas provides opportunities to bring together leaders from hospitals, health departments and other health-promoting organizations. A crucial first step — and one that is funded by The Duke Endowment’s grant — is to strengthen the infrastructure of the local coalitions that are coordinating the effort, so that they are well-positioned to identify and implement interventions and policies that work.

“Where we live, go to school, work, and how we spend our free time all contribute to our health and well-being,” said Dr. Chere Gregory, senior vice president and chief health equity officer of Novant Health. “To truly improve health within our community, we have to expand how we think about what affects our health. It’s about equitable access to health care, fresh food, areas for safe exercise, education and much more. There are societal challenges that create health care disparities. We must collaborate across sectors and strive to increase quality of life and wellness for all people.”

Ashleigh Hargrave, Novant Health senior director of diversity, inclusion and equity, added, “To have lasting and real impact, we must include residents from ZIP codes that are most at risk in the conversation about health care disparities.”

“The health challenges facing the Carolinas have been decades in the making,” said Lin Hollowell, director of health care at The Duke Endowment. “They cannot be effectively addressed overnight, though we’re starting to see the roots of progress take hold in the first set of Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas communities. The health challenges also cannot be solved by individuals and organizations working alone. Through Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas, communities can work together to confront their problems and make the most progress in achieving solutions.”

Representatives from the coalitions will participate in a learning collaborative with opportunities to share information with each other as they develop best practices for organizing, planning and implementing evidence-based policies and programs known to improve health.

“We are thrilled to welcome Healthy Forsyth to the North Carolina coalitions for 2022,” said Emily Roland, state director for the North Carolina Healthcare Association, which supports all North Carolina-based coalitions through technical assistance and specialized expertise. “This coalition will bring new awareness to Winston-Salem community members who are interested in taking a more proactive approach to health. Together with our coaching professionals from Population Health Improvement Partners, we look forward to supporting the Healthy Forsyth team as they build new and innovative ways for community members to access a better quality of life.”